The UK Sport PartnershipIn September 2013 the Company signed an agreement, worth £800k, to enter into the second phase of a Technology Partnership with UK Sport, the UK’s high performance sports agency
Between 2008 and 2012 the Partnership benefited 20 different Olympic and Paralympic sports and 140 athletes ranging from cycling to skeleton, to taekwondo and sailing. The relationship is providing some of Britain’s top athletes and their coaches access to BAE Systems’ expertise and technology innovations normally reserved for the defence and security sector.
Support for British AthletesOur UK-based scientists, engineers, apprentices and graduates have been busy working on a number of structural and mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, mathematical modelling and materials science solutions to help British athletes reach the podium in major competitions
To date we’ve been supporting the four-man GB bobsleigh team who have been aerodynamics testing using the wind-tunnel facilities at Warton
In addition Dave Moy, a BAE Systems employee, is providing critical hands-on support to British Skeleton athletes this season. The Engineer and Platform Manager at Maritime Services in Portsmouth, is seconded to travel day-to-day with the squad as British Skeleton’s first ever travelling on-site Sled Technician.
With medal positions in both bobsleigh and skeleton decided by fractions of a second, any technological advantages can mean the difference between a podium finish and also-rans.
The Technology Partnership’s most high profile success has been the creation of Arthur, the bob skeleton that propelled Amy Williams to Britain’s first individual gold medal win in three decades at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Outside of the Winter Olympics arena, BAE Systems continues to help Britain’s elite athletes apply scientific innovation to their training and competition.
Reinventing the wheelA revolutionary new racing wheel, which can improve the acceleration of Great Britain’s wheelchair racers by up to 20 per cent, has been unveiled by London 2012 Paralympic silver medalist, Shelly Woods.
Developed at our R&D centre in Bristol, in partnership with Draft, who design and manufacture active user and sports wheelchairs and high performance sports specialist Angle Consultancy, the new advanced composite wheel is stronger, faster and lighter than designs used by racers previously.
Although very light, the wheel is three times stiffer than previous designs and its rigidity reduces a force known as ‘toe-in’ – where the wheel bends inwards – caused by wheelchair athletes’ characteristic ‘punching’ motion on their push stroke. The increased lateral stiffness means the new wheels no longer bend inwards, reducing friction between them and the track, improving speed and acceleration.
Paralympic sport is growing year on year in strength and depth, and being able to make use of the best in British engineering, thanks to this partnership between BAE Systems and UK Sport, can help keep British athletes at the forefront of this fiercely competitive environment. Shelly Woods, Paralympic silver medalist
Having access to this kind of expertise gives us a huge boost and motivates me to train hard and continue to work on my racing technique every day, safe in the knowledge I have wonderful support around me. Shelly Woods, Paralympic silver medalist
Virtual fightersWe have also started investigating a simulator which will enable GB Taekwondo athletes to develop new skills while significantly reducing the risk of injury through repetitive impact.
This follows work with GB Taekwondo in refining their scoring techniques in the build-up to London, where their athletes won a gold and a bronze medal.
We will continue to draw on the expertise of our 18,000 engineers across BAE Systems to work with UK Sport, and their science, medicine and technology arm, the English Institute of Sport, to support British sports and athletes ahead of major competitions including the forthcoming Winter Games. Preparatory work is already underway, with wind-tunnel technology and expertise applied to help improve the racing speed of the GB Bobsleigh Team.
Cycling Laser Timing SystemAt the Manchester Velodrome, a sophisticated laser-timing system has been installed to monitor the performance of cyclists in training
The technology, derived from a battlefield identification system helps to monitor the performance of up to 30 cyclists training simultaneously, providing each athlete with individual split times with millisecond accuracy by reading a personalised tag attached to each bike.
Read more about our Cycling Laser Timing System
Taekwondo performance boostWe have been applying some of the same techniques and principles used to develop fighter jets and military tanks to help give the GB Taekwondo team a marginal gain in competition
A new system introduced into Taekwondo just a few years ago means fighters wear special electronic socks that deliver a coded signal when they strike sensors on the opponent’s vest. We have been testing the electronic scoring vest using sophisticated equipment, usually used to test composite materials’ resistance to impact. This has allowed the GB Taekwondo team to adjust their training style to maximise methods needed to score on the vest.
Read more about our work with GB Taekwondo
Testing Pentathlon GB's laser pistolsOur scientists and engineers have been applying defence and security technology to help the British Modern Pentathlon team to evaluate their high-tech laser pistols, which were introduced at the beginning of the 2011 season, replacing traditional air pistols
The team created a mobile laser pistol evaluation device called ‘ULTeMo’, which athletes can take to competitions, to help with last minute checks and to give athletes 100% confidence in the new technology. To use this system athletes simply align the pistol in the device and fire a single shot. The ULTeMo device immediately gives an indication how well the laser is performing, measuring the strength of the laser pulse.
The difference between success and failure in sport can often come down to the smallest of margins. The cutting edge technology from BAE Systems contributed to British athletes’ incredible success in the run-up to and during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I am pleased that BAE Systems’ partnership with UK Sport will continue to support our best athletes, with Sochi and Rio on the horizon Hugh Robertson, Former Minister for Sport
This partnership will continue to help us demonstrate how engineering can be applied in many different areas and encourage more young people to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and maths. We’re hugely proud to work with British athletes and help support incremental gains in performance that might make a real difference to the nation’s sporting success. Simon Howison, Engineering Director at BAE Systems
Having access to BAE Systems’ engineering capabilities has significantly increased our technical ability by helping our athletes and their coaches seek out those winning margins, both in training and in competition.
The incredible work to come out of the first phase of the partnership is just the beginning, and as we aim to win even more medals in Rio in 2016, we are delighted to be continuing to work closely with BAE Systems in helping our athletes to operate at the cutting edge of their sport Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport